Metro

Father-daughter college trip turns tragic in Wisconsin

Boston executive flying own plane crashes

Joseph Trustey and his daughter, Anna.
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Joseph Trustey and his daughter, Anna.

BEVERLY — To employees at Beverly Municipal Airport, Joseph F. Trustey was a regular with a down-to-earth style that belied his influential position in Boston’s private equity world.

He kept his two planes at the airport and stopped in a couple of times a week to fly to a business meeting or take his family on a trip.

When Trustey’s eldest child and only son died last October, “we were all just in tears,” said Kenneth Robinson, owner and president of North Atlantic Air Inc., the airport’s fixed-based operator.

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Wednesday afternoon, Robinson waved goodbye before Trustey, a top executive at Summit Partners private equity firm, left the airport to take his 18-year-old daughter, Anna, to visit Marquette University in Milwaukee.

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The next time he saw Trustey’s single-engine turboprop, it was on a Thursday morning news report about a Boston businessman whose plane had crashed at a small airport in Milwaukee. Trustey, 53, and his daughter had been killed.

“They showed a picture of the tail of the airplane, and I recognized it immediately,” Robinson said. “It’s all devastating. It takes the wind right out of you.”

An investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board was trying to determine why Trustey’s Socata TBM-700 crashed around 6:15 p.m., Wednesday after radioing in for a “go-around,” or aborted landing at Lawrence J. Timmerman Airport, officials said.

The investigator is seeking air traffic control communications, radar data, medical records, information about the aircraft’s maintenance history, and the pilot’s flight history, said NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway. The cause was still under investigation.

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“We may have a preliminary report by the end of next week,” he said.

Investigators looked through the wreckage of Joseph F. Trustey’s Socata TBM-700, which crashed at Lawrence J. Timmerman Airport in Milwaukee.
Rick Wood/associated Press
Investigators looked through the wreckage of Joseph F. Trustey’s Socata TBM-700, which crashed at Lawrence J. Timmerman Airport in Milwaukee.

Back in Massachusetts, the deaths of the father and daughter touched off an outpouring of grief from the family’s friends from Boston’s boardrooms to charitable circles where Trustey was well known.

Many had joined the family in grief just nine months ago when Andrew Joseph “A.J.” Trustey died at age 22.

“What are they going to do?” asked Eric Rose, 47, who lives near the Trusteys in Wenham, where mourners could be seen outside the family home bearing food and greeting each other with hugs.

Robinson said he attended the wake and funeral for Trustey’s son and heard the father deliver an emotional eulogy at the Church of St. Paul in Hamilton.

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“It was very moving and touching,” he said. “I think about his wife, Krissy. A lot of thoughts go through your mind.”

The Rev. Michael Lawlor, pastor at the Church of St. Paul, said the death of Joseph and Anna Trustey “leaves their family with a deep loss and profound sadness.”

“Our parish community and friends join our grief with theirs,” he said.

Joseph and Kristine Trustey had four children, including two other daughters — one of whom attends the University of Notre Dame, her father’s alma mater.

Robinson said Trustey often flew to Indiana in the fall to visit his daughter and attend football games. Sometimes Trustey took Robinson with him, he said.

“He is a very, very fastidious pilot,” said Robinson, who is also a pilot. “He didn’t take any chances. Joe was extremely conscientious.”

Trustey was initially certified to fly in February 2006, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford.

The FAA has no record of accidents, incidents, or closed enforcement cases involving Trustey, he said.

Trustey was certified as an airline transport pilot, meaning he was authorized to fly commercially, Lunsford said. He kept a Bombardier Challenger 300 business jet and the turboprop Socata TBM-700 at Beverly airport, Robinson said.

Robinson’s daughter, Kendylle, said Trustey, a former US Army captain, volunteered by flying veterans who needed to travel out of state.

At Christmas, he presented airport workers with gift cards and was “always going out of his way to thank you for doing things for him.”

“There was nothing fake about him, nothing pretentious,” said Kendylle Robinson, who got Trustey’s plane ready Wednesday before he left for what became his final flight.

“The whole family, they are just the . . . most wonderful people,” she said.

The deaths hit close to home at Shore Country Day School in Beverly, where Joseph Trustey served as president of the board of trustees, and at Brooks School in North Andover, where Anna was a senior and a top soccer and lacrosse player.

“Joe was a pillar of support to everyone in his life, and certainly to Brooks School. I cannot overstate what his support has meant to me,” Brooks head of school John Packard wrote in an e-mail to the school community.

“Anna was beloved by all who were fortunate enough to know her. She was good to the core. To lose them both is excruciating,” Packard wrote.

About 300 people attended a private vigil Thursday evening at Shore Country Day School, where mourners wrote notes to the Trustey family, said head of school Larry Griffin. Anna and Claire Trustey attended the school.

“A lot of people just need a place to talk,” Griffin said.

Those who knew Trustey from the private equity world remembered him for his intellect, character, and sense of humor.

At Summit, Trustey was a managing director and chief operating officer, credited with helping the firm become a major player in private equity investing with more than $6.5 billion in assets and 85 investment professionals.

In addition to his internal role at the firm, he served on the boards of a number of Summit’s portfolio companies, including three that are publicly traded.

“Joe was uniquely distinguished in so many ways: as a partner, a leader, and a friend,” Marty Mannion, the company’s managing director and chief investment officer, said in a statement. “He was a wonderful husband and father who also cared deeply for those with whom he worked, both inside and outside the firm.”

Prior to joining Summit, Trustey was a consultant at Boston’s Bain & Co.

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate who was an executive of Bain & Co. and Bain Capital, released a statement calling Trustey a man of “uncommon intellect” who led a life of “exuberance, discovery, and service to others.”

Gabriel Gomez, a former Summit executive who ran for US Senate in 2013, called Trustey a close friend and mentor.

“He was an amazing role model in everything he did in life — as a mentor, family man, and friend,” Gomez said in a statement.

One charity Trustey supported was Hannah & Friends, an Indiana nonprofit that helps children and adults with special needs.

Charlie Weis, the cofounder of Hannah & Friends, said he had encouraged Trustey to give up some of his many board seats in the wake of his son’s death last fall, to have more time with his family.

Weis is the former head football coach for Notre Dame and a former offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots.

“This has been an awful year” for the Trusteys, Weis said. “We are just devastated by the loss.”

Correspondent Sara DiNatale contributed to this report. Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi. Beth Healy can be reached at beth.healy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter@HealyBeth.